Hello Dear Reader,
Today is a big day for me and I wanted to share it with you, today is my last day in "Corporate America." At least for now.
For now, I am hatching plans and busting my buns to embark on my next professional adventure: self-employment as a fitness and wellness coach (think Jillian Michaels meets Tony Robbins meets Bethenny Frankel with less screaming, cheese and divorce). Oh the stats... Yea, about those... so, most small businesses fail. 95% in fact. But I'm going to let you in on a little fact... come here, get closer... ready? I am not a majority kind of girl. I am not a 95-percenter. Nope. I am a one-percenter. And not in the incredibly scary Hells Angels sort of way, but in a "just crazy and perpetually optimistic, enough to pull this thing off," kind of way.
So here we go babes and dudes, it's onward and upward and hustle and grit and laughs and tears and next level shit for this broad. Or as my friends and I are known to say before a big night out on the town, BUCKLE UP. So before I box up my cute little plant and turn in my laptop and corporate cell phone, I want to share a few lessons I'll take away from working for "The Man." After all, it hasn't all been bad and while I would trade some of the time I've let myself waste away behind the comfort of a corporate job because I was too scared to live out my true purpose on this planet, I wouldn't trade it all. How could I? I wouldn't have come to this place if I hadn't had these experiences.
1. Fake it till you make it.
During my first real job working in the WNBA I was a marketing assistant for a certifiable, nut-job. I won't get in to it about her, but suffice it to say I could write a book about how to work for a crazy person and all the life lessons that come from having to call 25 caterers and get quotes for an event that your boss refuses to give you a purpose, budget, date or head count for. But I digress. While I was a marketing assistant, I did a little bit of everything, and not typical, normal assistant stuff, this was wacky nonsense and way too big of responsibilities type stuff. That said, I was in over my head on a daily basis and I was being berated - legit harassment style - by a boss that was so terrified of losing her job she coudn't take a breath and realize that together we probably could have done some pretty great work. During this time I would run around the concourse of the arena on game day making sure corporate partners were set up with everything they needed, that interns were manning their posts, that whoever was singing the National Anthem made it on to the floor, that the big wigs in the private club were fat and happy, etc., etc. It was eff'ing exhausting. But, I would paste a damn smile on my face every game and strut that place in my Target business wardrobe and heels and fake that I had it all under control. And not only that I had it under control, that I was confident and happy. When I left my position with the team I received a card from a doctor who had been a volunteer for the team helping on game day, during our inaugural season. He was a soft spoken and wicked smart guy that always seemed at ease with himself. The card he sent me said "Shelley, you are one of the most positive, effective, dynamic business women I have met in a long time. You never once crossed my path without that radiant smile on your face." To this day I have that card framed in my house. I felt none of those things, but that's what he saw when he looked at me because that was what I was aspiring to be. Fake it till you make it friends, that which you treat as real becomes real in its consequences.
2. Do NOT have a relationship with a co-worker. I REPEAT, do NOT have a relationship with a co-worker.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I know. You're young, fabulous, working in professional sports, the hours are long and your co-worker showers you with attention, you all drink together after work, you wake up at their house after drinking too many apple martinis. It happens. And for awhile, it's kind of forbidden and fun. But let me tell you, it never ends well and it always ends. So just spare yourself the awkward exchanges as you bump in to one another in the kitchen and the even more awkward after work happy hour when you excuse yourself early and your friend says "have fun on your date!" and your ex loses their shit on you in front of everyone. Yea, that sounds hella fun, right? Enough said. There's a reason the expression "don't shit where you eat," exists and going down this path my friends is the equivalent of spooning yourself poo. Instead, have a gourmet feast of independence and professionalism. A) it's sexier anyway, and B) you don't have to have an uncomfortable sit down with your CEO about whether you are or are not technically having a relationship with your colleague. Which leads nicely in to my next lesson...
3. Do not burn your bridges. No matter what.
By now it's evident I've worked for someone crazy and I've had a relationship with a coworker. Both instances in which bridge burning could run rampant. However, I am proud to say, I've yet to burn a professional bridge despite even those dramatics I heaped on myself in my younger years. Here's the thing, you were chosen to do whatever job it is you landed and it undoubtedly will provide you with experiences that will lead you to determine what is next for you. Someone decided to say yes to you, give you the job and allow you to rack up a whole bunch of experiences that will allow you to either flourish or find out what is next for you - for those things express gratitude always. You don't need to express gratitude for people that are a pain in the ass, but for the experiences you've been given? Yes. Always. I'm telling you, the universe is weirdly, wonderfully, interconnected and some thing and some one, you meet in one position in your life will undoubtedly be linked to something in your future. It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but way better. Because if you know me at all, you know I hate Kevin Bacon. The dude is smarmy personified.
4. Lift while you climb.
One thing I've always hated about Corporate America is the way it is glorified as a place to stomp on others while you climb some figurative ladder. How eff'ing awful does that sound? Cubicle nation meet the Hunger Games. Shudder. Anyway, if you're lucky, you will find a mentor or be exposed to strong professional rolde models that know how to lift while they climb. People that understand it's lonely at the top if you don't bring others with you. I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong business professionals who know the importance of being goal driven while taking the time to coach up and comers and who have the compassion to understand that at the end of the day, we're all people and not just cogs in a machine. The founder of my most recent employer is one such woman. She is straight up one of the most energetic, switched on, dynamic babes I've ever met and she always encouraged me - and all of her employees - to passionately and aggressively go after their dreams. And she doesn't just talk about it - she gives you her genuine time and attention to talk about it and to brainstorm and to dream. She also puts her money where her mouth is and provides professional development opportunities that allow her staff to be exposed to new and different ways of thinking and doing. All this said - be the kind of person that knows how to leave their phone in their bag during a lunch or coffee date, turn away from their computer screen when someone walks up to their desk, silence their phone in a meeting and really give the people around you, your attention. Be present. Be curious. Be compassionate. Listen to others like you want to be listened to and stretch yourself to find ways to help others around you grow. Remember, the universe is interconnected and this is sure to give you some serious karma points down the line. Not to mention, perhaps one day you'll be able to lean on those that you lifted or call upon them to join your next venture whatever that may be.
5. If you don't like it, change it.
I tap danced around this with number three, if you were given a shot to do a job and you accepted, then the responsibility is on you. You said yes. Don't be the crazy broad that accepts the proposal, marries the dude and then ends up on Snapped because they couldn't take the marriage they didn't want to be in, in the first place. Not many people look good in orange. Or horizontal stripes for that matter. So get your shit together and don't say yes to something that you're going to go postal doing day in and day out. Now, don't get me wrong, there are awful conditions and expectations that employers can put on us, but every day is a choice that YOU make to walk in to your life and your job. You don't like it? Change it. It's that simple. "But Shelley, it's more complicated than that... I have bills, and kids, and a pet chinchila that needs surgery..." Yea, I got it. We all do. Here's the thing: life is short. A lot shorter than any of us can possibly know. So you're either going to get busy being raw and real and alive and scared, stretching and going after what you want or you're going to be numb, moving through the motions, chomatosed, scared, atrophying and not going after what you want. Either way, it's scary, so it might as well be exciting, too. Give yourself a shot at being epic. There is absolutely no such thing as failing when you are working hard towards something that matters - you just might get at what you're after by a different path than you originally imagined. In fact, I guarantee your path - and mine - won't follow the course we chart. It'll be so much better. And I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.
If you remember nothing else from this post remember this: doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. For the 95% of small businesses that fail, there are 5,000,000,000 that could've been a success if someone had decided to roll the dice and go all in on their dream. So I'm going all in.
PS - if you're looking for a fitness coach, motivational speaker, guest blogger, boostrapping friend to drink your red wine (Cab preferably), you know where to find me... thanks for reading.